2005 La Rioja Alta "904" Gran Reserva Rioja (1.5L)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2005 Gran Reserva 904 is a superb blend of Tempranillo from the villages of Briñas, Labastida and Villalba with 10% Graciano from Briones and Rodezno. The grapes were destemmed and crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 18 days at 25 C. Malolactic fermentation was spontaneous and lasted 38 days. These wines are marked by a long aging in used American oak barrels following the most strict Riojan tradition; four years during which time the wine was manually racked eight times. This is usually my favorite wine from La Rioja Alta and 2005 is one of its best showings, going back to the quality of the vintages of the 1950s and 60s. The nose is very balsamic with notes of camphor, hints of mint, leather and hung game wrapped around a core of cherries in liqueur. Together it is balanced, subtle, truly elegant and classical. The palate is only medium-bodied but with great concentration of flavors that are very tasty, mineral, almost salty and framed by ultra-fine tannins and smashing balance. A great classic. This wine will be released in October 2015, a full ten years after the vintage. At this quality level this is a bargain. (LG)
*Editors' Choice, Best of 2016* One look, one whiff, one taste and you're swooning. This mature, tawny, ready-to-drink gran reserva with aromas of lemon peel, cedar and dried cherry is the epitome of elegance. A juicy, supple palate is highly approachable, while flavors of vanilla, orange peel, saffron and dried plum don't waver on the finish. (MS)
Aromas of pine needles, ginger, red fruits and cedar. Mushroom too, plus bark and mint. Complex. Full body, ultra fine tannins and a tangy and bright finish. Makes you want to drink it. Made from 90% tempranillo with 10% graciano from 40+ year-old vineyards in the Briñas, Labastida and Villalba. Drink or hold.
Bright ruby-red. Complex, intensely perfumed bouquet of candied cherry, vanilla, mocha, cured tobacco and spicecake, with a suave potpourri note becoming stronger in the glass. Offers sweet, penetrating cherry-cola and lavender pastille flavors complicated by hints of smoky minerals and candied licorice. The long, subtly tannic finish delivers noteworthy energy and focus, leaving suave spicecake and cherry liqueur notes behind. (JR)
Wine & Spirits
A cellar selection from close to 20 estate parcels in Rioja Alta where the vines are at least 40 years old, this was bottled at the end of 2010, after aging in four-year-old barrels (La Rioja Alta changed its aging regime in 2001, shifting from longer aging in 15-year-old barrels to a shorter time in younger barrels). The firm makes its own barrels, from staves they age in-house, which may account for the finesse of the oak influence on this wine, and the cushioned gentleness of its texture. The fruit selection would account for its tremendous length of flavor, a combination of fruitiness and earthiness that parallels what you might find in a truffle. Delicate and luscious, this is a pleasure to drink now, though the reason to buy this wine is for the way it will taste and how the texture will feel in another five to 15 years.
This old-school red delivers dried cherry, floral, licorice and leather flavors in a smooth texture, supported by light, firm tannins and orange peel acidity. The flavors are harmonious, the finish long and juicy. (TM)
*Good Value* 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano. Sarah Jane Evans's selection. Smoky, creamy, mature nose with a musty, dusty aroma. Black cherry and vanilla on the palate with plenty of primary intensity that could age a long time. Consistently one of the most impressive Riojas. (RH)
Many folks are very much aware of the La Rioja Alta "Viña Ardanza" bottling. In contrast to the Ardanza, the "904" contains Tempranillo and Graciano (no Garnacha) and is every bit as traditional. It sees aging in used American oak barrels for 48 months, racking twice a year, and then further aging in bottle. The wine always has a sumptuous, velvety texture, with more bass notes in place of Ardanza's higher toned, red-fruited profile, and a lovely, meaty savor to the wine. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)